Perhaps you’ve heard this before… God wanted the Jewish people to be His bride, but they rejected Jesus, so God chose the Church to be His bride instead. Where does this idea come from?
Let’s do a quick little history… Jesus was crucified, then rose again, then He met with His disciples and gave them some instructions, and then He disappeared. This puts us in the book of Acts in the New Testament. This is where we begin to see the ministry of the Apostles. At this point in their ministry, they are primarily speaking to the Jews. Now we’re told the Jews rejected Jesus, so let’s take a look and see what is happening through the first several chapters of Acts…
- 2:41 – 3000 Jews believed
- 2:47 – added to their numbers day by day
- 4:4 – 5000 Jews believed
- 5:14 – large numbers believed
- 6:1 – increasing in numbers
- 6:7 – increased greatly, including “many of the priests”
- 9:31 – increasing
- 9:35 – all of Lydda and Sharon believed
- 9:42 – many in Joppa believed
Acts 10:34 is interesting because this is where Peter has a dream, and he realizes that God is telling Him to go to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. From that dream, we can reason that Peter had been solely focused on evangelizing the Jews, and a majority of the believers mentioned in the first nine chapters would have been Jewish. (Verse 45 confirms this as well.) And then in Acts 11:1-18, the Jews confront Peter over the facts that he ate with the Gentiles and is teaching them as well, but Peter explains his vision and the Jews believe and “glorified God, saying, ‘Well then, God has also granted to the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.’”
That doesn’t sound like the Jews are rejecting Jesus or the Apostles at all. We’re also told that the Jews are angry, and jealous of the Gentiles, but we don’t see this either. But we’re only about half way through Acts, so let’s keep reading.
In Acts 13:44 something interesting happens: Paul begins to teach, and the Jews reject what he is teaching. Notice this! The Jews didn’t reject what Peter taught, they rejected what Paul taught. Also Interesting, in earlier instances where the Apostles face resistance, it’s from the religious leaders, not the Jewish people. But in this case, Paul says the Jews rejected him. Then in verse 46 Paul says, “since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.” Paul says that he is going to teach to the Gentiles because the Jews are rejecting his message. In Acts 17:5 Paul says the Jews were jealous of the Gentiles. That’s a curious statement to make. What would the Jews be jealous of, if they were rejecting what Paul was teaching them? Lastly we jump over to Acts 18:6, and we see Paul say this again after they reject him, “From now on I will go to the Gentiles.” This is a stark contrast from what we saw with Peter in chapter 11. Peter says that God instructed him to go to the Gentiles and teach; Paul says that he is going to go to the Gentiles because the Jews are rejecting his teachings.
Despite what I was told in church, I’m not seeing that the Jews rejected Jesus. Acts and the Apostles seem to tell us quite the opposite. I only see that the Jews rejected Paul. There’s a common theme here; Paul seems to introduce a lot of ideas and traditions that none of the Apostles ever talked about. I don’t want to use the word “contradiction” here, but let’s just say that Paul’s experiences are unique to anything the Apostles ever record. At best it’s at least curious.